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COP26 climate change: Billionaire Twiggy Forrest urges Australians to invest in green hydrogen

Australian mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has called time on fossil fuel in a major switch to renewable energy in a move which has come under fire from some.

‘The party’s over. I know it, you know it,’ he says in a powerful new video announcing his dramatic conversion. 

‘We’ve all had a great ride,’ he says.

‘If unchecked, carbon dioxide climate chaos is going to render humanity extinct.’

The iron ore billionaire has now thrown his weight behind developing green hydrogen technology, calling it ‘the fuel of the future – pure, totally clean’. 

Critics have derided the move as a bid by the tycoon to cash in on the green economy, but Mr Forrest, 59, is unabashed about his intent to reap the profits.

Australian mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest (pictured) has called time on fossil fuel in a major switch to renewable energy

‘The great thing is, when you make a serious dollar out of it, you can still go home and you can look your kids straight in the eye, not a lump of guilt in your throat,’ he said. 

Hydrogen activist Simon Holmes a Court believes Mr Forrest is sincere and trusted the billionaire ‘cautiously, on this’ after posting the mining boss’s video with the comment: ‘Oh wow.’ 

‘I think it’s an important moment in time,’ Mr Holmes a Court told Daily Mail Australia.

‘One of Australia’s most successful businessman, with a significant history in fossil fuel, has very publicly come out to show where the “smart money” is going.’ 

But climate analyst Ketan Joshi was less convinced and claimed Mr Forrest was overstating the impact of green hydrogen.

‘You’re over-inflating the use-case for hydrogen for personal gain, even if it comes at the cost of worse emissions and under-consideration of alternatives,’ he said.

‘You’re also building fossil fuel infrastructure, which is really bad.’ 

In a new video (pictured), Mr Forrest warns: 'If unchecked, carbon dioxide climate chaos is going to render humanity extinct'

In a new video (pictured), Mr Forrest warns: ‘If unchecked, carbon dioxide climate chaos is going to render humanity extinct’

The iron ore billionaire has now thrown his weight behind developing green hydrogen technology, calling it 'the fuel of the future - pure, totally clean'. (Pictured, Fortescue Metals Group Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia)

The iron ore billionaire has now thrown his weight behind developing green hydrogen technology, calling it ‘the fuel of the future – pure, totally clean’. (Pictured, Fortescue Metals Group Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia)

In the video  – released while Mr Forrest is still at the COP26 talks on climate change in Glasgow – he acknowledges coal and oil have powered civilisation to new heights.

‘I just want to thank the fossil fuel sector for your great service,’ he says across a breakfast table while reading a newspaper with the headline: ‘Fossil fuel industry in terminal decline’.

 ‘Warm houses, fast cars – three centuries of insane growth.’

He says his companies are now going to make a fortune from investing in the new technology and challenges others to buy into the evolving industry too.

‘I’m already in,’ he says to the camera in the video. 

‘You’re not going to let me take it all, are you?’ 

The billionaire's video got a mixed reaction online (pictured) with many accusing him of simply cashing in on the renewable energy, while others stressed that was his point

The billionaire’s video got a mixed reaction online (pictured) with many accusing him of simply cashing in on the renewable energy, while others stressed that was his point

The move comes after his company Fortescue Metals Group told shareholders it would be investing 10 per cent of its post-tax profits into Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) to develop renewable energy technology.

The company believes it is vital for it to decarbonise ahead of possible new taxes and penalties which could hit the business’s bottom line in the near-future. 

The mining arm of the billionaire’s empire made $13.9billion profit last year, and Mr Forrest says he has travelled the world looking for new areas to develop renewable energy projects.

Mr Forrest said there was $130trillion of investment announced at COP26 (pictured) that was going into renewable energy globally

Mr Forrest said there was $130trillion of investment announced at COP26 (pictured) that was going into renewable energy globally

He said there was $130trillion of investment announced at COP26 that was going into renewable energy globally and his FFI group would be part of it.

They are now developing the automated production of electrolysers which is an essential component of green hydrogen, converting water into the vital gas. 

Previously the demand for electrolysers has been so small, the industry has never developed beyond being ‘primitive’, Mr Forrest said.

But they are key to the production process. 

Other methods of hydrogen production – known as brown, grey or blue hydrogen – are possible but they produce carbon as a by-product.

Mr Forrest's Fortescue Future Industries is now developing the automated production of electrolysers which is an essential component of green hydrogen, converting water into the vital gas

Mr Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries is now developing the automated production of electrolysers which is an essential component of green hydrogen, converting water into the vital gas

However by using electrolysers powered by solar and wind farms, green hydrogen production is almost completely carbon free.

‘Twiggy really wants to make the point that the future of hydrogen is green from renewables, not blue from gas,’ Mr Holmes a Court said. 

‘Not only from an environmental perspective, but importantly from an economic perspective.’ 

Green hydrogen aims to complement other renewable energy sources like solar and wind-powered electricity which alone can’t replace all coal and oil-fuelled industries.

Energy-intensive demands like steel furnaces, aviation and long-distance shipping have different needs which could be met by hydrogen if it can be produced cheaply. 

But as a volatile inflammable gas, hydrogen has distribution issues, while compressing or cooling it to a liquid reduces its green credentials because of the carbon produced in the process.

By using electrolysers powered by solar and wind farms (pictured), green hydrogen production is almost completely carbon free

By using electrolysers powered by solar and wind farms (pictured), green hydrogen production is almost completely carbon free

However, green hydrogen can be converted to ammonia for safe transportation before being converted back.  

FFI is now planning to build a green ammonia plant in Tasmania, with development details expected to be confirmed next year. 

Mr Forrest’s video ends with the stark message: ‘Green hydrogen can save us – but waiting for it won’t. 2050 is too late.’  

‘Experts think green hydrogen could eventually provide 10-15 per cent of global energy so it’s not everything,’ Mr Holmes a Court added.

‘But for nations that have a competitive advantage – and Australia has that – it could be a huge export industry.’ 

Other major renewable projects planned for Australia include Atlassian boss Mike Cannon-Brookes’s Sun Cable development which intends to build a giant 10 gigawatt solar farm and export electricity to Singapore. 

Oil giant BP also has its project Lightsource which will combine a massive 1.5 gigawatts wind and solar farm to power its own green hydrogen plant in Western Australia.

The Australian Government on Wednesday announced it would invest $500million to work with the private sector to focus on low emission technology -such as carbon capture - over greener renewable technology. (Pictured, coal piles up at a Hunter Valley mine in NSW)

The Australian Government on Wednesday announced it would invest $500million to work with the private sector to focus on low emission technology -such as carbon capture – over greener renewable technology. (Pictured, coal piles up at a Hunter Valley mine in NSW)

The Australian Government came under fire last month when it announced its climate change policy, based on future technology breakthroughs rather than carbon tax measures. 

The Government on Wednesday announced it would invest $500million to work with the private sector to focus on low emission technology – such as carbon capture – over greener renewable technology.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: ‘Australia can become a world leader in creating low-emissions technology that is both affordable and scalable, helping get emissions down while creating jobs.’

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